Welcome to the Pilates Style Newsletter

Six times a year, we bring you Pilates-related news, original feature articles, bonus material from the current issue of Pilates Style magazine and more.
We want to hear from you! If you know of a Pilates event, or have news to share with your community, email us at newsletter@pilatesstyle.com.
In this issue

The Real Deal on Health Trends

Someone in your studio swears by oil pulling, while a co-worker says she’s giving up flour and sugar for 30 days. What’s the deal? To get the bottom line on whether these fads are healthy or hype, we asked the experts to weigh in.

Based on Ayurvedic medicine, this practice involves swishing a tablespoon or so of oil, such as coconut or sunflower, in your mouth for roughly 20 minutes before spitting it out. It’s thought to draw toxins out of your body, reduce cavities and improve oral health.

Experts say: While a preliminary study in the Asia Journal of Public Health shows that oil pulling does have an antibacterial effect in the mouth, the experts at the American Dental Association say there’s not enough proof to recommend the practice. Plus, “science doesn’t support the claim that it eliminates toxins,” says Jessica Crandall, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Fans of these popular programs say that sipping on freshly pressed juice, mostly made from fruits and vegetables, for a few days a week can help them lose weight, eliminate toxins and boost their energy levels.

Experts say: “There’s no use to drink juice to cleanse; our bodies are designed to clean out our systems on their own,” explains Crandall. On top of that, sipping your meals means that you’re missing out on important nutrients, such as fiber and protein. “A whole orange is much more satiating and filling than its juice,” says Crandall. If weight loss or maintenance is your goal, try filling up on whole fruits and vegetables instead of drinking them through a straw.

This diet plan eliminates grain, dairy, sugar and legumes for 30 days to help you drop pounds and pinpoint the foods that may be dragging you down.

Experts say: Cutting out the junk and eating clean is a smart way to kick-start healthier eating habits. “But some people may find that avoiding entire groups of foods too restrictive,” says Crandall, who recommends finding an eating plan that you can stick with for the long-term.

Introduced in the diet book The Bulletproof Diet, this drink is a mix of coffee, grass-fed butter and oil. Proponents say that the fat in this frothy beverage will keep you full for hours and help you think clearer.

Experts say:
The butter and oil in a cup of Bulletproof coffee is high in saturated fat, which can raise your cholesterol level, says Sharon Richter, RD, a dietitian in private practice in New York City. And fat is calorie-dense, so unless you’re a hard-core athlete that’s training for an endurance event, chances are you’ll wind up consuming an excess for the day.

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Pilates Etiquette 101

You always write thank-you notes and say “bless you” after a sneeze, but do you know the proper protocol for Pilates conundrums? Here, instructors offer their advice for four all-too-common sticky situations.

Scenario: Your studio is a no-cell-phone zone, but you don’t want to miss a call from the office.
Solution: Speak to your instructor before class. Some have a firm no-phone policy, while others make allowances. “Ask if you can keep your phone on vibrate, and choose a spot near the door if you need to step out,” suggests Mariska Breland, founder of the Fuse Pilates Method in Washington, D.C.

Scenario: Your neighbors won’t stop whispering during class.
Solution: Focus is important in Pilates, so it’s acceptable to ask them to quiet down. Or you can mention it to your instructor after class, who can address the situation the next time. “I can add the cue to bring the top and bottom lips together, and hold them there,” says Breland.

Scenario: Ack! You’re running 15 minutes late to your Pilates session.
Solution: If you have a private booked, chances are you will get charged regardless. So call your instructor; inform her that you’ll be late, and enjoy a shortened session. Headed to class? You may want to ask the front desk about the policy. If you can sneak in, do so as quietly as possible and perform a warm-up on your own before joining in, says Jill Hinson, a STOTT PILATES® instructor and owner of Core Studio Pilates & Yoga in Monroe, NC.

Scenario: In mat class, the only spot left is occupied by someone’s crooked mat.
Solution: If you spot the mat’s owner, ask them if you can straighten it out, suggests Hinson. Can’t find them? Go ahead and move it—and then explain that you did when they come in.

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Expert Q & A with Rael Isacowitz

Q. I’m new to Pilates. While I enjoy it, I feel like I’m not picking things up easily. How can I keep track of my progress?

A. First, let me welcome you to the fascinating world of Pilates. It is a path that can accompany you your entire life and enhance everything you do. I know what I am about to say sounds like a cliché, but it holds true: “Anything worth anything does not come easily.” Pilates is valuable, it is impactful, but it is not easy. I encourage you to view the fact that you are not picking things up easily as a challenge and a sign of Pilates’ depth and complexity, and not see it as an obstacle—and certainly not a reason to give up.

Keeping track of your progress is not the same as other forms of fitness training. For instance, if you were working with weights, as you become stronger you add more weight. This is a very simple formula. With Pilates, it’s not as simple. Improvement is gauged by the quality of the movement and not the ease with which you do it. To quote one of my well-known principles that I have used for many, many years: “Exercises do not get easier, they get better.” The better you perform them, the more you’ll feel the work more deeply and intensely.

This all said, measuring progress is still important. It stimulates interest in the method and encourages commitment to your practice. Once you feel a sense of comfort with the choreography, when you become aware of your powerhouse (or your Internal Support System, as I describe in my book, Pilates) and your alignment and as you begin to achieve the objectives of the movement, it may be time to pat yourself on the back for your achievements, and ramp up your program.

Finally, nothing—absolutely nothing—can replace consistent practice. Don’t be impatient, enjoy the journey (forgive me for using another cliché!), and you will reap the rewards.


Rael Isacowitz, MA, has been practicing Pilates for more than 35 years and is recognized internationally as an expert in the field. In 1989, Rael founded BASI Pilates®, a comprehensive Pilates education organization represented throughout the world. Rael has authored two books, Pilates and Pilates Anatomy (co-authored with Karen Clippinger), as well as a series of training manuals. He has been featured in a DVD series, created the groundbreaking software, Pilates Interactive, and designed a line of Pilates equipment, the AVALON System. For more information, visit www.basipilates.com.

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Close-Up: Plié with Side Stretch

By Elizabeth Ordway; Photos by Rod Foster

Purpose: Stretches the hips and spine. If you’re pregnant, it lifts the organs to make more room for baby and opens the pelvic area, which can help the baby settle into the right position for labor.

Setup: Stand tall, with your feet a little wider than your hips and turned out. Stretch your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder height, reaching for opposite walls, palms down.

1. Inhale, bending your knees into a plié and opening and stretching your hips; maintain the alignment of your knees over your toes. Return to the starting position, “lifting” your torso as much as possible.

2. Exhale, reaching your right arm overhead, and lengthening up and over to your side as you straighten your legs, coming onto the ball of your right foot as you round your left arm downward toward your right hip. Repeat on your other side. Do 6–8 reps.

Tip: Follow your breath as you make this a fluid and meditative movement. Extend energy through your fingertips and opposite toes. Reaching long in both directions increases your stretch and opens up space in your lower back.

Advanced: Deepen the plié and pick up the pace. Challenge your balance by lifting up onto your toes in the side stretch.

Elizabeth Ordway, recognized as one of the top Pilates instructors in Los Angeles, is known for her warm demeanor and customized programs. She is most passionate about working with pregnant women and new moms, specializing in pre/postnatal Pilates. Elizabeth received her initial Pilates certification in 2001 from Jill Cassady, Pilates Technique, Los Angeles. She has also had the privilege of working with many renowned Pilates educators and movement experts, including Romana Kryzanwska at the former Drago’s in New York City. In 2010, she opened and ran her own studio, Movement Studio LA, which included yoga, dance and barre as well as Pilates. Elizabeth choreographed and is featured in the Element: Targeted Toning Pilates for Beginners and Element: Pilates Basics DVDs (2013). She currently works with private clients and teaches workshops, including Prenatal and Mommy & Me Pilates. Elizabeth is proud to be the mom to two beautiful stepchildren and her baby girl, born January 2014. For more information, visit www.elizabethordway.com.

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Host a Healthier Barbecue

Summer’s the season for backyard barbecues, family picnics and pool parties. But these festivities are often filled with calorie-laden indulgences, like sugary cocktails and mayo-filled salads. The solution? Whip up your own healthy dishes, like one of these recipes for your next get-together. Get ready to enjoy the season without wrecking your waistline.

Spiked Hibiscus and Ginger Agua Fresca
High in flavor and low in sugar, this spicy-sweet drink is a bona fide crowd-pleaser.
(Serves 4)

4 cups water
4 bags hibiscus tea
6 fresh mint leaves
½ teaspoon stevia (or preferred sweetener)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 ounces tequila
ice cubes, for serving
4 lemon wedges, for garnish
4 fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove from the heat, and add the hibiscus tea and mint leaves. Let stand 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tea bags, pressing hard on the bags.
2. Transfer to a heatproof pitcher, and stir in the stevia, ginger and lemon juice. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. Once chilled, add the tequila.
3. Pour into 4 ice-filled glasses, garnish each with a lemon wedge and mint sprig, and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Ingrid Hoffman, celebrity chef, TV host and author of Latin D’Lite: Delicious Latin Recipes with a Healthy Twist.


Garbanzo Quinoa Salad
Trust us: You’ll want to want to double this recipe and save the leftovers for a protein-packed lunch.
(Serves 6)

1 cup quinoa
½ cucumber
12 grape tomatoes
6 basil leaves
1 (16-ounce) can garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon fresh pressed garlic
½ cup feta cheese (optional)
¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions, then set aside to cool. Dice the cucumber, slice the tomatoes in half, and cut the basil leaves into thin strips. Drain and rinse the beans.
2. In large bowl, combine the cooled quinoa, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil and garlic. Add the crumbled feta cheese if using. Add the balsamic vinaigrette, mix together well and serve. Will keep nicely for a couple of days in the fridge.

Excerpted with permission from Vegetarian Comfort Foods: The Happy Healthy Gut Guide to Delicious Plant-Based Cooking by Jenniger Browne. Copyright 2015, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.


Coconut Bliss Balls
With these coconut-flecked sweet treats, you won’t even notice the spread of cookies and brownies on the buffet line.
(Makes 36 balls)

2 cups pitted dates
½ cup warm water
¾ cup gluten-free rolled oats
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup salted pumpkin seeds
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup cranberries
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1. Mix all the ingredients except for the coconut together in food processor until well combined.
2. Form into balls, roll in the coconut, and place on parchment paper or in mini-muffin cups as you go. Store in mini-muffin cups in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Excerpted with permission from Vegetarian Comfort Foods: The Happy Healthy Gut Guide to Delicious Plant-Based Cooking by Jenniger Browne. Copyright 2015, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

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In this issue
The Real Deal on Health Trends
Pilates Etiquette 101
Expert Q & A with Rael Isacowitz
Close-Up: Plié with Side Stretch
Host a Healthier Barbecue
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